Six years ago Marcello L. Moretto was charged with domestic battery by strangulation in an incident involving his girlfriend of six months, with the woman’s 11-year-old daughter in the house. He was accused of slamming the woman’s head on the ground. The woman, who had been his fiancee, was trying to end the relationship after what she described to deputies as violence that had “progressively gotten worse.” The woman told deputies she was in fear for her life, wanted Moretto out of the house–but not in court.
Moretto, speaking to the deputy on the way to jail, attributed the incident to a misunderstanding and said he loved the woman. The third-degree felony charge was dropped two weeks later.
On Friday, Moretto, 53, was arrested on a second-degree felony charge of written threats to “conduct an act of terrorism” after allegedly threatening his former employer that he would kill the employer’s son. “Well it’s been over a month now and guess what? Your son is still a Putz,” Moretto is said to have written the employer–a Palm Coast restaurant. “If I ever see him I’m gonna kill him tell him that. No one talks to me that way.” Moretto had worked at the restaurant four years before walking off the job in mid-April, according to his arrest report.
The target of the alleged threats was not aware that they’d been leveled, and told deputies he was in fear for his safety because of could encounter Moretto in public, and the business was not far from where Moretto lives.
When deputies met with Moretto in person at his home, on Claridge Court in Palm Coast, he “became very agitated and loud with deputies and banged his hand on the pillar outside,” according to the deputy’s report. He accused his former employer of being mean to his employees and him, and acknowledged sending the threatening text. “But I did not mean it like that” he said. The report goes on: When Moretto “was asked to clarify what he meant by the text message, he kept repeating himself.”
The arrest–and the charge–followed the familiar pattern that has seen numerous students of all ages, some in elementary school, getting arrested on the same felony charge for making similar threats by text or social media over the past two years. State law was changed, and such threats elevated to second-degree felonies (and termed “terrorist” threats) in the wake of the Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School massacre in Parkland in 2018, in which 17 people were killed and 17 injured.
In almost every case of arrests locally, the students have claimed that they did not mean their threats to be taken seriously. And in every case, Sheriff Rick Staly has repeated that no such threats can be made, even jokingly, and not be taken seriously. He’s implored residents to be mindful of their language on social media and in texts to avoid getting into situations that leave authorities no choice but to make arrests under the law, and level the felony charge. In almost all instances, students end up processed by the Department of Juvenile Justice before being returned to their parents pending court proceedings. They end up facing, at most, probation.
Moretto was booked at the county jail on $1,500 bond, which he posted, and ordered to have no contact with the victim or his father. He was not ordered to surrender firearms, as is sometimes the case with felony charges.